The Japanese government said Sunday it remains committed to holding the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer, reacting to an international media storm sparked by comments from one of its senior ministers.
"We have decided the venues and schedule (for the games), and the people involved are working on preparations including infection control," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the top government spokesman, said on a television program.
Kato's assurances came after Reuters quoted Japan's administrative and regulatory reform minister, Taro Kono, as saying the fate of the games "could go either way."
"Anything is possible, but as the host of the games we need to do whatever we can, so that when it's a go, we can have a good Olympic Games," Kono said, according to the news agency.
The remarks were carried by several media outlets across the world as it is the first time a high-ranking member of the government has indicated any doubt over the postponed games going ahead.
Kono's comments came about a week after Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee, told the BBC he believes there is no guarantee the games will go ahead.
"I can't be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus," he was quoted as saying, casting doubt over IOC President Thomas Bach's ambition for the games to be "the light at the end of this dark (pandemic) tunnel."